For the first time ever, the snow crab fishery will be extended. The grueling season is far from over for many boats. Almost 1/4 of the 88.9 million pound quota still needs to be caught and the ice still covers most of the fishing grounds. Currently, the crab fishery is extended until May 31st. Even the Togiak herring fishery is off to a late start because of the record breaking sea ice this year.
“Record sea ice significantly reduced available fishing grounds throughout a large portion of the snow crab season, and as a result, nearly 25 percent of the snow-crab total allowable catch
has not been harvested,” according to Tuesday’s news release from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game
. Fish and Game granted a partial extension of the eastern subdistrict between 171 and 173 degrees west longitude until May 31. The area was originally set to close May 15. All areas are now scheduled to close May 31, but ADF&G officials in Unalaska, Kodiak
are pondering whether to let the fishermen keep dropping pots into the water in June, said biologist Britta Baechler in Unalaska. On Monday, she said 57 boats were still registered, and 21 had finished fishing. As of Monday, 67.7 million pounds were harvested, she said. The season’s quota is about 88 million pounds. “Pretty much anybody involved in the industry is struggling this season,” Baechler said. But Al Mendoza, crab manager at Unisea in Unalaska agreed, said the extension “will definitely help. “There’s a lot of frustrated fishermen. It’s been a long winter season for the fishermen and processors, but everybody’s holding strong and trying to get through it,” Mendoza said. via ADF&G extends snow crab season – The Dutch Harbor Fisherman